After the international break, The Championship returned with a bang at the weekend with some great games, and the inevitable surprise result thrown into the mix. There’s little rest for the 24 clubs though, as a busy week of action continues with a set of midweek fixtures. Here we look at three key games..
- Wolves v Bolton
This was a Premier League fixture merely six months ago, but it is the home side who look far more suitably equipped for an instant return to the top flight. Having lost key players Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher at the back end of August, Wolves have regrouped well and currently sit inside the top six. Stale Solbakken will be looking for a response to last weekend’s defeat at Huddersfield, however, and the long term concern is whether Wolves have enough ammunition up front to sustain a serious promotion push.
As for Bolton, they are going through something of a transitional period following the sacking of Owen Coyle. Caretaker manager Jimmy Phiilips oversaw a rousing comeback at the weekend to defeat Bristol City 3-2, a result which will have provided a much needed and timely confidence boost. Unlike Wolves, Bolton haven’t been severely depleted since relegation, and players like Kevin Davies, Martin Petrov and Chris Eagles are all capable of spearheading a Bolton charge. Whether they can begin that charge at Molineux is tough to answer, but I am tipping the Trotters to upset the form guide somewhat and sneak a crucial three points. 1-2
- Leicester v Brighton
After an indifferent start, Leicester have embarked on a fine run of form that has culminated in the Foxes moving to the top of The Championship. Although their five game winning streak was halted at Birmingham on Saturday, salvaging a late draw was enough to see Leicester hit the summit, and Pearson will be hoping that the momentum can continue. Whilst being a little inconsistent away from home, Leicester have been in dominant mood at the King Power Stadium, winning all five of their Championship home fixtures to date. That kind of form will form the bedrock to any promotion push.
Brighton have stuttered recently, and Saturday’s home defeat against Middlesbrough, saw the club slide out of the play off places. Whilst Brighton are visually pleasing to watch, Boro weren’t the first side to nick a goal on the break and then successfully defend the advantage through to full time, indicating that Brighton are struggling to break down their opponents. In one way, it is a testament to the success of Gus Poyet’s side that opponents feel the need to operate so defensively against Brighton, but on the other hand, it is costing them crucial points. Leicester are good at home, but Brighton are in need of a positive result, and may well get one, thus ending Leicester’s 100% home record in the process. 1-1
- Peterborough v Huddersfield
Two clubs at polar ends of the Championship table meet at London Road. Both sides need the points for differing reasons, Peterborough desperately need to kick start their campaign if they are to have any hope of avoiding a return to League One. Nine defeats out of eleven sees Darren Ferguson’s side rooted to the foot of the table, and the more they lose, the more they will be cut adrift. At present, Posh are just about clinging on, thanks largely to the failings of Ipswich, but the results need to start coming quickly, especially at home where Peterborough are yet to pick up even a solitary point.
Huddersfield have probably been the surprise package this season after last year’s promotion and the momentum gained from that achievement has been carried through into the early stages of this campaign. The loan signing of Jermaine Beckford looks a shrewd bit of business by Simon Grayson, and with his virtually guaranteed supply of goals, Huddersfield will be a match for anyone. Away from home, The Terriers have enjoyed great success, already taking maximum points from tricky away grounds such as Sheffield Wednseday, Blackpool and Birmingham, and they will be confident of adding Peterborough to that list of casualties. 1-3